One of the reasons I adopted a mutt is because I had pure bred dogs my whole life and they all had genetic health issues and I thought some hybrid vigor would make it all better. For the first 2 years of her life, Peanut lived up to the hype and I never had to take her to the vet for anything other than shots (with the exception of the time another dog attacked her, but she gets a pass there).
|Mini Peanut was so cute|
By the time I got off the phone with him, the seizure was over but Peanut wasn't ok. She didn't seem to be able to use all four limbs or see and was still unresponsive. She had made a real mess of the hallway and herself, so I just started cleaning up and waited for my husband to come home from work. By the time he got home, she was back to normal and just panting. He took her straight to the vet and they tested everything and absolutely everything came back normal. The vet said "Well, it could be epilepsy but we can't tell because she has only had one seizure" and sent Peanut home with instructions for us to just wait and see.
|Guilt treats taste so sweet.|
Obviously, I was pretty freaked out and did a ton of research on epilepsy in dogs and found out that Peanut fit the typical profile. The normal onset for it was around age 2 and beagles are known to have epilepsy (and we are pretty sure that she has beagle in her). She had a textbook seizure with all the appropriate phases: The "pre-ictal phase" with the anxiety, the "ictal phase" of the actual seizure and then the "post-ictal phase" of disorientation and temporary blindness. I even searched on YouTube for videos of dog seizures and realized that Peanut was an overachiever in the violence of her seizures, but Peanut is known for her exuberance in general.
|Just look how seriously she takes family portraits|
The vet had told us that it takes some dogs years to have another seizure, but Peanut had another one two weeks later...and then a week after that...and then 5 days after that one...and then 3 days later she had another. By this point, we decided that we had to medicate her. Several people had told me that the anti-seizure medication would make her a zombie dog and I should avoid it as long as possible, but we just couldn't see living with her doing things like standing on us at 4am to tell us she was about to have another seizure.
The medication that she's on is a sedative and the general idea is that keeping a constant low level of sedation in her blood stream will keep her brain from having the electrical storm that causes the seizure. Ever since we started the medicine, she hasn't had any seizures. We've had a few "Oh, crap the dog is about to have a seizure" moments, but she seemed to pull herself back. Every 6 months Peanut gets a blood test to make sure that her medicine is still working and for the first time, we got a call last week that her medicine isn't working at the current dosage and needs to be changed.
|I told you I need more drugs...and food. Lots more food.|
Finding out that she needs her medicine tweaked isn't surprising (it's normal for the dog to get used to the medicine) but knowing that she could have a seizure at any time before we can get the medication levels in her bloodstream back up to where it needs to be has put me on edge. After 3 days of her increased medication I feel better, but I'm still extra sensitive to her whining and pacing. I've always known that she will eventually have seizures again, but honestly I'm not ready to deal with it again or explain to Faith what is going on. I gave the dog a pep talk about holding out on having seizures again until Faith is at least 5 and can understand things better and I think she listened to me.
|Yeah, yeah think of the baby. I get it.|
I talked to the vet about repeated seizures and brain damage and she said that brain damage would occur, but since Peanut doesn't have to do calculus that we wouldn't really notice. I still can't help but imagine her looking like this by age 9:
|We always knew she was special|
So that's Peanut's extended story and I hope that maybe it will help someone out there who is like me and doing a ton of research on the internet for real life examples of people living with an epileptic dog. Peanut is living proof that anti-seizure medication doesn't turn all dogs into zombies and she hasn't even become obese like most dogs on that medication (ok, she has gained 8lbs, but she swears it's water weight). Eventually the medication won't work for her anymore and the seizures will incapacitate her, but we are just doing our best to make sure that doesn't happen until she's an old dog.
Have you ever had a pet with a chronic health issue? How did you deal with it?